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Commentaries on this Media!

Life After Death? - Star Trek: The Experience Virtual Tour and Experiential Archiving

by Ethan Tussey

by Ian Peters for IN MEDIA RES

The Star Trek The Experience Virtual Tour and Slideshow Database, produced by, is a self-described "visual time-capsule" and "immersive tribute" to the former Star Trek: The Experience at the Las Vegas Hilton. Photographed three weeks before The Experience closed its doors in September, 2008, this virtual tour allows visitors to explore 360-degree captures of this attraction's environments, including the museum's rides, promenade, and staff rooms. The high quality images are combined with surviving audio recordings of the tours and are curated using Adobe Flash Panorama Player, allowing limited mobility through a virtual recreation of former media attraction.

While "wandering" through these virtual rooms provides the opportunity to engage with a space that no longer exists in the physical realm, the fragments assembled in this tour seem incomplete. It is an experience that is, in some ways, akin to wandering through a haunted house where ghosts of the past still echo through its halls. Other fragments found online that are not included in the Tour can provide additional context. One of the largest resources includes a documentary produced by a former cast member, featuring filmed segments from throughout the Experience's life and death, as well as interviews with its former cast and crew (the Facebook page includes photographs and a forum for the sharing of memories). Even the accompanying clip - an advanced preview of the Tour's content - contains materials not currently included in its virtual exhibition spaces (specifically, the grainy video footage on various monitors). While these materials provide additional context, they lack the main feature of the Tour - its interactivity and the chance for visitors to "move" through this now closed (and sadly demolished) media experience. It becomes, effectively, an empty museum that is both a tribute to what once was and a reminder of what has been lost and will never be recovered.

This week of IMR explores the theme of media fragments and virtual museums. Digital media and the internet have encouraged curators, archivists, and artists to rethink traditional perceptions of the exhibit space and digital archive in an environment where geographical limitations are no longer a restriction. Some online content, like this example, continue to exist long after the physical is lost. One day these too will be "demolished" when the servers housing the content are finally deactivated. The transitory limitations of life and death affect both the digital and the physical. How do we contextualize what has been left behind?

The Star Trek Experience

Video of the Star Trek Experience virtual tour

from Star Trek Experience (2009)
Creator: Star Trek Experience
Posted by Ethan Tussey